jueves, 1 de octubre de 2015

The Way of St. James

One night a monk named Pelagius glimpsed a light in an area of the bishopric of Iria-Flavia (NW Spain). The monk communicated his vision to his superior, Bishop Teodomiro, discovering a cave in the right place inside which came a marble ark where the mortal remains of St. James were found. The Apostle James was the first evangelizer of the Iberian Peninsula. Following his martyrdom and death in Jerusalem, his disciples Athanasius and Theodore moved his remains to the Galician coast, aboard a boat, and there buried the body.

The discovery was made on July 25 of the year 814 and the Asturian monarch, Alfonso II of Asturias, moved on pilgrimage to the place and ordered to build a small basilica and a Benedictine monastery. The little village began to grow into Compostela (whose name derives, according to the medieval tradition, the Latin language "Campus Stellae"). In the year 899 more basilica was consecrated, ordered by King Alfonso III of Asturias.

The discovery of the relics of St. James spread throughout Europe, where the cult of relics was becoming an obsession, like the need to find a binder that served to expel all evil looming over Europe, especially Islam. No wonder the Apostle James "will collaborate" on numerous occasions with the Christian kings in the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula and their armies will fight, courageous, shouting "James and Close Spain".

The first pilgrimages took place between the faithful of the different kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. During the tenth century, Sancho the Great (King of Navarre), made a number of improvements in the route linking the Kingdom of Navarre with the population of Compostela, in order to provide greater security to the pilgrims. Among these improvements, we find the construction of the first hospices and monasteries. This stage will end up with the dreaded raids of Almansor, who came to attack the city of Compostela and stole the bells of the Cathedral of St. James, to take them to Cordoba, loaded on the shoulders of Christian captives.

Later in the tenth century, they are recorded the first French pilgrims. Then, as you could speak of a real Way of St. James, consisting of the so-called French Way. Two entrances, from Canfranc and Roncesvalles, come together in Puente de la Reina, a town that was named after bridge built for the pilgrims to cross the river Arqa. From this village, one path continues across the north of the Iberian Peninsula to its final stage in Finisterre.

In the year 951, it appears registered the first international pilgrimage, registered by the monk Gomez (Abbey of St Martin of Albelda) and carried out by Gottschalk, bishop of Puy. In the eleventh century, the heyday of the Jacobean pilgrimages from all over the known world occurs. The success of the pilgrimages we look at the numerous hospices, hospitals, monasteries and abbeys that launches the Order of Cluny, providing greater "comfort" to the pilgrim. Other promoters of pilgrimages will be the Bishop Diego Gelmírez who managed, in 1095, Pope Urban II moved the episcopal see from Iria-Flavia to Compostela, with category of "Apostolic See" like Rome. Compostela, Rome and Jerusalem become the three most important places of pilgrimage for all Christendom.

The insecurity remained one of the main problems of the pilgrimage, so the Military Order of St. James was created. The objective of this military order was to defend pilgrims from the many dangers that lurked in the way, especially the bandits.

The pilgrims of the same region, departed in groups to defend themselves from dangers, making the trip in a time when the weather was more favorable. Before starting the pilgrimage, they entrusted their assets to a monastery whose abbot gave the pilgrim, his cane, a pumpkin (to carry water), a rosary and a purse. The trip lasted as long as the peregrine wanted. To encourage pilgrimages, pilgrims were exempted from paying tolls, and protected from the rapacity of mayors, gentlemen, waiters and thieves. The pilgrim was respected and protected both by society and by the authorities.

The role of the Way of St. James, was instrumental in the kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula and Europe, because through it, there was a fluid cultural, spiritual, economic, artistic and political exchange between the different areas passing this way. The Romanesque and Gothic art penetrated in the Iberian Peninsula, through the Way of St. James. Even immigrants from Europe who settled in Spain (called Franks) came through the Way of St. James.

miércoles, 10 de junio de 2015

Giants (Spanish Folk)

Festive giants are large figures representing kings, nobles or people with traditional clothing of the Spanish Middle Ages. They are a very prominent element in most towns in Catalonia (Northeastern Spain).


During the late Middle Ages,, in court festivals of various European countries began to adopt the custom of including anthropomorphic dolls, made from wood and cardboard, large designed to hide a man inside. This man, holding them in armor or wooden easel, made the doll dance to the sound of a melody. In the fourteenth century, these dancing figures were incorporated into the procession of Corpus Christi.

In Catalonia, the tradition appears in Barcelona and begins to spread to Valencia and Mallorca. The female figure "giant woman" appears in the sixteenth century.

During the nineteenth century, towns and cities discovered, giants, an expression of local identity. With the arrival of democracy, these figures became a symbol of cultural identity. In 1984, the Association of Groups of Giants of Catalonia is created.

Types of Giants:

  • Giants of Arenys de Mar. In this population are the Giants: St. Elmo and Carmen (a fisherman and a fishwife)
  • Giants Barcelona. In this city are the giants: King Jaime I "The Conqueror" and Queen Violante of Hungary.
  • Bellvís Giants of. In this population are the Giants: Pedro de Bellvís, Lord Bellvís and Ermesinda Moncada, Lady Moncada.
  • Giants of Palamos. In this population are the giants: King Pedro III "the Great" and Queen Constance of Sicily.

Nous vestits de les rèpliques dels gegants nous.

sábado, 25 de abril de 2015

Eleanor of Spain. Princess of Asturias.

(Madrid, October 31, 2005) She is the current heir to the throne of Spain. She is the eldest daughter of the current kings of Spain.

She was born on October 31, 2005 at the Ruber International Clinic in Madrid, as eldest daughter of the then Prince of Asturias, Felipe de Borbon and Letizia Ortiz Rocasolano. She is called to be the fourth starter since Queen Isabel "the Catholic", but for now She is the princess of Asturias and is the learner as such.

She receives the honor of HRH, from the moment of her birth. Since the ascension to the throne of her father, June 19, 2014, She ranks first in line to the throne of Spain, ahead of her younger sister, the Infanta Sofía, aunts and cousins. Leonor is thus the first woman to hold the title of Princess of Asturias since 1904, the year of the death of Princess Maria de las Mercedes, sister of the late King Alphonse XIII.

The name of Eleanor was very common in the Spanish monarchy, especially in the Middle Ages when several princesses and queens consort of Castile received this name. In the Kingdom of Navarra, Eleanor of Trastamara held the title of Queen of Navarre, as Eleanor I, between January and February 1479.

From 2023, when she reaches the age of majority, she will swear the Spanish Constitution and receive her first military training with the Spanish Armed Forces.


From the moment of her birth, she held the dignity of Infanta of Spain, and from the abdication of his grandfather, she holds historical titles of the different kingdoms that formed the current Spain:

- Princess of Asturias, as heir to the Kingdom of Castile.
- Princess of Gerona, Duchess of Montblanc, Countess of Cervera and Lady of Balaguer, as heir to the Kingdom of Aragon.
- Princess of Viana, as heir to the kingdom of Navarre.

Its full title is: Her Royal Highness, Princess Eleanor of Asturias, Gerona and Viana, Duchess of Montblanc, Countess of Cervera and Lady of Balaguer.

martes, 24 de marzo de 2015

Merry Christmas Grandma Carmen.

There was once an old woman named Carmen. She was 98 years old and for years that loneliness was her only companion since she was a widow and her children had migrated to other cities in search of work. Carmen, just received visits of Mary, the sister of her daughter in law who helped with housework and offered her all the love her children and grandchildren could no longer give him, because rarely have time to visit her and spend some time with her. Her grandchildren were always busy and usually at Christmas had commitments, much more important than going to visit an old lady who was thousands of miles away.

One Christmas Eve, she was sitting at the dinner table, with a blanket wrapped around his legs, warming with a brazier that was right under the table. It was a pleasant winter day, low dark sun filtering through the window, dimly illuminating the room. Despite being a sunny day, it was too cold.

The Christmas holidays had arrived, Carmen (or mom Carmen) watched the comings and goings of people traveling on the cobbled streets of the small town where she lived. The streets were decorated with colored lights, forming the Christmas figures: holly, fir, sledding ... People walked the streets covering their coats, scarves and hats, chatting and preparing holiday shopping. Carmen absorbed, watched all this bustle from her window while gently stirring a big bowl of thick hot chocolate, accompanied by pasta rolled in sugar. She was giving excessive treat for her health, but the pleasure of that cup of chocolate replacing the emptiness of her heart. With the first sip of his coffee, my grandmother closed her eyes, reveling in the feeling of wellbeing that invaded his body and mitigated her sadness. She opened her eyes and looked out the window, she noticed something different in the air.

There were wooden carts circulating through the cobbled streets, led by mules and ponies. The houses were made from clay, stone and plaster and were plastered with lime. People were dressed in old clothes. Children played in the street with snow, made snowballs and threw them at each other. Carmen was impressed. She rose from her chair and walked outside.

In the distance, she saw some children playing in the street and one of them shouted:

- Carmen, come and play with us!

My great- grandmother recognized those girls. Puzzled, she looked at her body. Everything about her had changed, now looked like a girl of 8 years.She had stepped back in time! The girl who called her was her older sister Francesca. A great joy and overflowing joy invaded her infant body. Without thinking, she ran to her sister, and started playing with snow. There were Incarnation, Isabel, Rosario and Sorrows, her little sister (3 years) tried unsuccessfully to keep up with all those girls twice her age.

Carmen, fatigued by the game, sat on the steps of a portal. After a few minutes, the great oak door opened and heard a sweet voice say:

- Dear Carmen, call your sisters. I have prepared a snack: a big bowl of hot chocolate and pastries. Come and rest a while.

Carmen stunned, acknowledged that sweet and beautiful voice in his heart.It was her mother! She turned her head and saw her. The tears wet her face. She had preserved in her memory the image of her mother as was seeing at the time. A tall, thin woman with white skin immaculately dressed in black with a large white apron tied to her, greasy and chocolate drops waist. She had dark, shiny and silky hair in a bun and a very tender and loving smile.

My great- grandmother called her sisters and took Sorrows in her arms. She could not stop kissing her and pamper her. Sorrows knew her match her with emotional hugs and sweet kisses. She returned to taste those delicious snacks that prepared her mother.

Her mother reminded them that it was Christmas Eve and that night estrenarían their new wool coats, which she had woven with care, and their new shoes, and that they would be ready to stroll through the streets of the town asking for the bonus and singing songs .

This Christmas Eve, Carmen returned to dinner with her parents and sisters. On the table was a large pot with broth and several plates of sardines, sausages, bacon and black pudding, a carafe of red wine and a loaf of bread. Everyone enjoyed the meal and waited, anxious, the arrival of dessert: those shortbread that her mother always prepared with such care and affection.

After dinner, came her friends and neighbors who will sing Christmas songs and playing the friction drums and tambourines, entered the house to find Carmen and her sisters. They took shelter in their new coats and shoes, grabbed their friction drums, and excited, took to the streets in search of donations from their neighbors.

That night, people were very generous and collected all kinds of sweets, shortbread and nougat. In each household were offered a sweet exchange for listening to a Christmas song. After spending all night singing, my great- grandmother and her friends were distributed and collected, tired, went each to his house. My great- grandmother closed her eyes. Sleep overtook her at the time. A feeling of being invaded her tired body and her old but beautiful soul.

My great- grandmother does not reawakened. She fell asleep forever, in that chair by the large window in the dining room. When I was little, she always told me that her childhood was the most valuable treasure of her life, her mind struggled for years to remember those moments of past happiness with her family and remember those people who was always in her heart . Her long life ended as she always wanted as a child, being happy, remembering those years in which nothing scared him, without war, without loneliness, without sadness. She was happy and dreamed.

Merry Christmas Great Grandmother!

lunes, 23 de marzo de 2015

Berengaria of Navarre. Queen consort of England.

(Navarra, 1165 - France, 1230) was Queen consort of England, Duchess of Normandy and countess of Anjou.

She was the eldest daughter of King Sancho VI of Navarre and Queen Sancha of Castile. When King Richard the Lionheart (Richard Plantagenet), king of England, on his way to Palestine towards the Third Crusade. Berengaria (which was promised to the king secretly) joined him in the city of Messina, Italy.

On May 14, 1191, Berengaria and Richard were married at St. George's Chapel in Limassol, Cyprus. She never knew England, because from 1191-1192, the queen lived in Acre (Palestine) while her husband was fighting the Saracens. Later, they returned to Europe separately from 1192-1194 (period in which King Richard was imprisoned in Germany), she lived in Poitiers (France), contributing to the achievement of the ransom demanded by the German emperor to free her husband (in fact, the brother of Queen, prince Ferdinand of Navarre, was one of the hostages offered to secure the part of the rescue was payable). Between 1195 and 1196, Berengaria and Richard met again and resumed their living together. Thus, both projected the construction of a residence in the County of Anjou, but frequent disputes between Richard and King Philip Augustus of France's returned to definitively separate.

After the death of King Richard (1199), fallen during a siege, Berengaria initiated a dispute with her brother in law, John Lackland (John Plantagenet), the successor to her husband on the throne of England, for their refusal to comply testamentary dispositions established by Richard for his wife.

Thanks to the intervention of the Popes Innocent III and Honorius III, Berengaria was rewarded for her widow fighting of the hand of King Henry III of England, as his father (John Lackland) never got to meet the agreements made. In 1204, King Philip Augustus of France awarded her the Lordship of Le Mans, in exchange for their rights to Norman towns of Falaise and Domfront. She lived there until her death in 1230.

Anecdotes and curiosities of the Romans.

- For the Romans, mistletoe was a symbol of peace, why is used at Christmas.

- After pruning the branches of trees, women who wished become pregnant were whipped.

- The Priestesses of Venus exercised sacred prostitution in honor of this goddess. Over time, the name of the goddess came to refer to women engaged in prostitution.

- Prostitution was considered a social good.

- The verb fornicate comes from the fornices, which were the rooms where prostitutes received their customers.

- The Leno (current pimp) was in charge of maintaining order and charged a fee for the service of the prostitute.

- For the Romans there were 3 types of prostitutes: the prostitute (the woman who wants it) that is the woman handing over her body to whom she wishes. The Pala (the woman who has no choice) that accepts anyone who can pay the price demanded, and útlimo, the Meretrix (the woman who is enriched) it is the woman who makes a living freely.

- Each prostitute had, at the entrance to his room, a drawing to which reference was made sexual ability.

- The fellatio was considered the most disgusting habit that a customer could ask for. It was the most expensive service due to lack of hygiene of some customers.

- Prostitutes and women licentious habits, should wear a short tunic for distinguishing them from other women.

- The Statio Cunnulinguiorum were where gigolos offering to perform oral sex on women.

- Roman women, when they wanted to avoid becoming pregnant, sought castrated lovers.

- The mint was considered an aphrodisiac. In wartime cultivation and infusions are prohibited to avoid weakening the soldiers.

- The worst crime a woman could commit was adultery. The householder could repudiate her if he caught her committing such an act and make her execute after conducting a trial.

- Women, especially noblewomen, paid large sums to spend the night with a gladiator and even put some condition that the gladiators were not washing after the fight.

- If, on the wedding night the husband was not able to deflower his wife, she must consummate intercourse with a wooden statue of the god Priapus. This god was represented with a large erect phallus.

- That, during the wedding night, no energy was missing husband, mother of the bride put a jar of honey next to the marriage bed.

- Roman women preferred their eyebrows join on their nose. To achieve this effect, including a mixture of ant eggs and dry flies were applied.

- On December 25 coincided with the feast of the winter solstice and the feast of various Roman and Germanic gods. On the night of 24 to 25 December, the Romans celebrated the Birth of the Unconquered.

Medieval hospitals.

The health organization in Spain was, during the Middle Ages, one of the largest in the Western world. Hospitals covered as a spider web, the entire territory of the Iberian Peninsula, with a large number of centers, including shelters, charitable homes and hospitals. As a result of mergers of several establishments in large populations, or abandonment and destruction, today many of these centers are abandoned or have been completely demolished. However, we are indebted to these charities who knew mitigate the effects of the great plagues of the Middle Ages, plus famines and wars.

Hunger, leprosy and the Black Death were the great executioners of western European society. Neither the feudal lord; neither bourgeois, the servant, the artisan and peasant possessed protection against the threatening presence of evil, and Spain was no exception. Before the development of these diseases, creating a minimum of hospital facilities was agreed.

From the eleventh century, made mass pilgrimages to shrines, monasteries were overwhelmed by such an influx of people to the point of having to care at all times of day, pilgrims, which prevented the normal development of monastic life. The solution came with the founding of hospitals (in this case the hospital is a place where hospitality is practiced). Institutions often dependent on a monastery. The brotherhoods of pilgrims were also institutions that most encouraged the creation of these beneficial buildings.

The medieval hospital fulfill three basic functions: hospice for beggars, hostel for pilgrims and hospital for the sick. Moreover, these centers also became humanitarian shelters for abandoned children, dramatic social situation that was very worrying as a result of epidemics, famine and war.

In Catalonia, the hospital organization covering the areas of greatest transit of the Spanish geography, from the Mediterranean to Aragon, from the Ebro River to Occitania. Thus, these hospitals appear erected in the main towns (Barcelona, ​​Lleida, Tarragona, Tortosa, Vic, Reus and Manresa), on routes frequented comunicació (Cervera, Calaf, Olesa de Bonesvalls, Solsona ...) the edge of the inner pilgrimage routes (who deviated from the main pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, in the Pyrenees), hospitals created in the mountain passes, the result of altruistic action of religious orders. These centers can be classified into two groups:

- Due to its location: city, country, road of pilgrimage.
- For its purpose: leprosarium, hostel, specific treatment for fever, leprosy, ergotism or St. Anthony's Fire.

The concept of hostel, refers to that at nightfall, the city closed their doors, leaving foreign hikers in need of shelter around or in the worst case, having to sleep in the open. To this end, were created some buildings that adequately fulfilled their dual mission, hospital and hostel.

From the twelfth century to the fifteenth century was experienced in Spain, a real fever construction of hospitals. This was driven mainly by the terrible epidemics that plagued Christianity and deep social inequalities. Furthermore, from the outset, the space problems were a constant in the life of the hospital.